Research Assistant (Drinking Water Distribution Systems)

Nanyang Technological University

Singapore 🇸🇬

Programme Summary

With the release of Enhanced SGUnited Programmes announced by Workforce Singapore (WSG) in conjuncture with Singapore Business Federation, NTU offer attachments and traineeships to support the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme (SGUP) and SGUnited Traineeships (SGUT). The programmes are part of NTU’s effort to create relevant and meaningful opportunities for our nation’s mid-career individuals and fresh graduates looking for full-time positions.

About the Centre

The Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE) is a unique interdisciplinary Research Centre of Excellence (RCE), funded by National Research Foundation, Singapore Ministry of Education, Nanyang Technological University and National University of Singapore. Hosted by NTU in partnership with NUS, SCELSE is linking new insights from the life sciences with expertise from the emerging technologies in engineering and natural sciences to understand, harness and control microbial biofilm communities and microbiomes.

Job Description

An estimated 309 million people worldwide are supplied annually with water by piped distribution networks that are operated intermittently. Repeated cycles of flushing and draining associated with intermittent water supply (IWS) have been shown to create favourable conditions not only for biofilm growth but also biofilm detachment, thus resulting in deterioration of water quality. To date, there are few studies comparing IWS with continuous water supply (CWS) in terms of the drinking water microbiome

  • This project will evaluate the effects of IWS and CWS on the quality of drinking water through field experiments in an above-ground campus testbed. Various physicochemical water quality parameters will be analysed in the bulk water with highly sensitive instruments for trace-level analysis [e.g. inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)]. At the same time, flow cytometry that allows for the differentiation between live and dead bacteria count as well as their phenotypic fingerprint for sampled bulk water samples will be used to assess the level of biofilm detachment
  • We are looking for one highly motivated and detail-oriented trainee to work on our drinking water distribution systems (DWDS) project. The trainee will be involved in planning, organizing, and conducting outdoor sampling of three well-established DWDS testbeds in Singapore and learn to understand the impact of operational events on drinking water quality
  • The successful applicant will also be working with a wide array of novel techniques and methods (e.g. next generation sequencing and high-sensitivity flow cytometry) and receive training in the most relevant bioinformatical workflows
  • Additional skills include developing and validating molecular assays for qPCR, conducting trace level analysis using ICP-MS, and performing culture-based detection methods for waterborne indicator organisms using MALDI-TOF
  • Presenting results of the work, both in the form of peer-review scientific articles and oral/poster presentation, will also be an essential part of the Programme


  • Bachelor’s degree in an area relevant to microbiology, environmental/bioprocess engineering, biological science, or biochemistry
  • Willing to gain competence in basic microbiology and environmental engineering
  • Experience in wet lab (microbiology/biochemistry/bioreactors) is a distinct advantage
  • Ability to work with an interdisciplinary team
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Possess a sense of initiative, is proactive and can work independently
  • Responsibility and keen interest to learn
  • Meticulousness to follow protocols and observe safety
  • Be able to keep an organized lab book and communicate his/her findings efficiently during weekly meetings

Duration of Traineeship/Attachment Offered: 6 months

Approved Training Allowance

  • Fresh Graduates – $2500
  • Non-Mature Mid-Career Individuals – $3000
  • Mature Mid-Career Individuals – $3800

This position is open for both recent graduates and mid-career individuals (mature and non-mature). Graduates interested in this position should possess a University Degree. Mid-career individuals from any qualification level can apply.

Hiring Institution: NTU